Author’s note: I’ve never been quite sure what to call this one, so it’s gone by “Untitled”; a story created out of past events and past feelings, but a story none the less.
“There are more truths in a good book than its author meant to put in it” – Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
When I was 18, I was almost raped by a boy who was too drunk to realise what he was doing to me. But that’s not what this story is about. That’s another story.
Another world, another time, another me. Because we are all the same, us girls who fall in the in between. Not quite raped, but still haunted; not quite beaten, but still hurt. When the “no” never comes, because it stopped before it had to come – but only because somebody else walked in – and so there we are, years later, left wondering still, “What if…”
What if that somebody had never walked in? What if the “no” had only gotten me a “shut up” in return? What if I’m still crying about a rape that never happened?
What do I do then?
That’s what this story is about.
I’ve never felt like I’ve had the right to be upset. It didn’t happen. I should consider myself lucky – yet somehow, I can’t quite call that luck. I can only question. Is it still rape if rape never happened?
The obvious answer is no. Don’t be ridiculous, of course it isn’t. Don’t be selfish, it didn’t happen. You didn’t get raped; there are hundreds of other girls out there who didn’t get so lucky.
There’s that word again – luck. Get over yourself and move on, you lucky whore.
“You fucking bitch, you slept with him!” she screamed at me.
“I didn’t,” I whisper back. I swear I didn’t.
You see, there’s something I’m not telling you, about this story. That drunk boy who didn’t realise what he was doing to me? He had just broken up with my best friend. It was an amicable break up (not that that justifies anything), and we all thought he was a good guy. I thought he was a good guy. I thought he was my friend. I thought a lot of people were my friend. But I guess I wasn’t such a great friend either…
And so that is why I am apologizing for the scariest moment of my life. I’m apologizing for my trauma, and even in saying that, I’m feeling guilty over calling it a trauma. (After all, did I not bring this on myself?) I’m sorry for what I did, what I almost let happen. I’m sorry I smiled at him (I wasn’t trying to encourage anybody, even though a smile is often misconstrued as encouraging). I’m sorry I kissed him back. I’m sorry my brain took a moment to catch up to my hands, but when it did, I promise, I so desperately wanted it to stop, but he wouldn’t let me.
I lied before. I did say no. I asked him to stop, when my brain finally woke up behind the alcohol, realised what I was doing, who I was doing it with. I asked him to stop, which is the same as saying no, and he told me to shut up and tried to pull me into the bedroom. He told me to shut up and I shut down. What could I do to stop a boy who’d decided what he wanted? Boys are strong, but drunk boys are stronger. The bruises on my wrists taught me that.
I couldn’t say no after that. Not to him, not to any boy who decided for me that now was the time for sex. I had grown terrified of saying no. Terrified I might lose my virginity to rape and so I said yes to make sure that never happened. No was not the answer they wanted to hear, even the nice ones. I convinced myself that it was just better to go along with it, then to tell them no and have them punish me for that. That was what he taught me. No meant punishment. No meant he was going to do it anyways, and now it was my fault that he was doing it. At least this way I could pretend it had been my idea too.
“Shut up, bitch, shut the fuck up.”
I slept with a lot of boys after that. Not always boys I wanted to either. Did things I didn’t want to do. But it was better than the fear of what telling them no would make them do to me.
“Come home with me tonight.”
“I’m just going to take a picture, I promise. I won’t show anyone.”
“It’s okay, just touch me right there. Do it.”
“I don’t fucking care what time it is, get your fucking ass over here right now before I drag you out.”
Boys grinding on me, grabbing me, touching me. Fucking me. “God, all I want to do is fuck you.” Well, maybe I don’t want to fuck you. But that was never said allowed, and the boys always got their way.
Maybe that’s just my weakness.
Maybe I really am just a slut.
“I thought we were friends.” I know. So did I. I’m sorry.
I touch myself to make me feel better. It’s the only gentle touch I can trust. Boys think that’s hot, so now I can’t even do that. Unless they tell me to, of course.
I still have nightmares about him, the rape that never happened. He told me he wasn’t sorry, because there was nothing to apologize for. He had done nothing wrong. He hadn’t raped me.
It’s surprising how fast you can lose all your friends. They took sides, and I was on the wrong side apparently. I was in the wrong. His side meant they didn’t have to feel awkward. “You brought this on yourself, you know.” I know. “What were you thinking?” I wasn’t. “How could you do something like that?” I didn’t, not on purpose. And once again, the boy is venerated, and the girl is shamed. Congratulations everyone, you’ve made another girl feel bad about herself. Are you proud? Because I’m not. I’m not proud of what I did. I’m stuck. Stuck between feeling guilty because of who he was and who he was to me, and hurt because of who he was and who he was to me. Friends don’t do that to each other. And that goes for me too. That is my shame too. I am sorry. Not because of what he did to me, but because of what I did to you. I will never stop being sorry. This is a punishment that lasts forever. The fear lasts forever.
I’m terrified of the day I might run into him. I don’t know what I’d do. Any strength that I have managed to regain since that awful occurrence would fall in a puddle to the floor, and then there would just be me, naked and shivering once more. He didn’t rape me. What do I have to be scared of? Not everything’s about you. Just shut up already.
Stop. Please stop. Please. Please… please…pl…
That’s what begging looks like. Not sexual begging. The begging of a girl who never said yes.
“You should smile more,” they say. “You’d be so much prettier if you smiled.” I don’t smile because the last time I smiled, a boy tried to rape me. A smile is a sign of consent apparently, and no amount of begging will wipe that false consent from their minds. Fuck you and your smiles – wipe that look straight off your face.
Every day, I remind myself of what happened – what didn’t happen, I should say. I remind myself and think just how goddamn lucky I am. It’s okay, I tell myself. I didn’t say no. It can’t be rape. Because I didn’t say no. Not loud enough, not fast enough. He made his intention clear, and I didn’t argue, not in the conventional way that has me screaming no. And that’s what makes it okay.
I have never been raped. Only almost raped.